Enrile, Jinggoy, Bong face plunder raps
MANILA (UPDATE 3) - The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday filed plunder and malversation complaints against 8 current and former lawmakers including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada in connection with the P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Enrile, Revila and Estrada, as well as former congressmen Rizalina Seachon Lanete and Edgard Valdez, will face plunder complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and lawyer Levito Baligod.
Three former congressmen--Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, Samuel Dangwa of Benguet and Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro--were accused of malversation, direct bribery and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Eight chiefs-of-staff (COS) of the 8 lawmakers in the complaint were also recommended to be charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman.
They are Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, former chief of staff of Enrile; Richard Cambe, COS of Revilla; Ruby Tuazon, aide of Enrile and Estrada; Pauline Labayen, staff of Estrada; Jose Sumalpong, COS of Lanete; Janet dela Cruz, district staff of Lanete, Erwin Dangwa, COS of Dangwa; and Carlos Lozada, staff of Dangwa.
Five heads of implementing agencies were also recommended to be charged with plunder, malversation and graft and corrupt practices act violations.
They are Alan Javellana, former president of Nabcor; Gondelina Amata, president of NLDC; Antonio Ortiz, former director general of TRC, Dennis Cunanan, former deputy director general of TRC; Salvador Salacup, former president of ZREC and now undersecretary of Department of Agriculture.
Six heads of Napoles-linked NGOs were also recommended to be charged for plunder or malversation.
The six are Jocelyn Piorato of Agricultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc., Nemesio Pablo Jr. of the Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., Mylene T. Encarnacion of the Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation Inc., John Raymond de Asis of Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., Evelyn de Leon of Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc., and Ronald John Lim of Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc.
De Lima said a total of 38 individuals were charged in the first batch of cases in connection with the pork barrel scam including various officials in government implementing agencies.
She said businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles is being charged as co-conspirator in the plunder case filed against the 5 lawmakers and the malversation case against the 3 other officials.
Whistle-blowers have accused Napoles, owner of the JLN Group of Companies, of conspiring with lawmakers and other government officials to funnel millions of pesos in pork barrel funds to fake NGOs.
Truckload of evidence
In the press conference, de Lima said the 5 lawmakers charged with plunder had conspired with Napoles and other government officials to accumulate P50 million each "through misappropriation, malversation and misuse" of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
"Sila po ang pinangalanan ng whistle-blowers at meron personal knowledge ang mga whistle-blowers tungkol sa transactions nila with JLN at sila rin po ang una naming nabuo yung mga documentary trail na katakot-takot at andami," she said.
Lawyer Levito Baligod said the evidence will also show that the accused lawmakers used the Napoles NGOs frequently, with at least one legislator funneling more than P100 million to a Napoles NGO for just one project.
She said the other 3 lawmakers were charged with malversation because they only received kickbacks from Napoles of less than 50 million pesos, the threshold amount for plunder.
She said the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation will file more cases, this time regarding the misuse of the Malampaya fund.
De Lima said the government has a "truckload of evidence" as well as the 16 whistle-blowers to prove the charges. She said the evidence includes documents gathered from the Commission on Audit, Department of Budget and Management, special allotment release orders (SAROs), memorandum of agreements and legislator's endorsement letters.
She said the bank records to be procured by the Anti-Money Laundering Case will bolster the case.
The justice secretary said the DOJ cannot issue a hold-departure order against the 3 senators and the other respondents since the cases are still in the preliminary investigation stage.
Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, meanwhile, said the filing of charges continues a process prescribed by the Constitution.
"All the accused will be given their day in court under a fair and impartial trial. The Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) continues its investigation and will file more charges as evidence warrants. We urge the public to diligently and soberly follow this process that will be pursued to its legal conclusion," he said in a statement.
Revilla: Don't judge us
Revilla on Monday urged the public not to prejudge them.
"The truth will come out. Hintayin natin iyung tamang oras para magsalita," he said.
Estrada, meanwhile, was combative.
"They are conditioning the mind of the public that we are the worst thieves, and that I cannot accept," he said.
Estrada said he will face the charges head-on.
"Kailanman ay hindi ko dinungisan o balak dungisan ang pangalan ng aming pamilya," said the senator, a son of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
The former President was found guilty of plunder in 2007 but was pardoned by then President Gloria Arroyo.
Incomplete, hasty probe, says JPE lawyer
Enrile, meanwhile, said in a statement that the Department of Justice filed the case after an "incomplete, hasty, and partial investigation."
"That investigation has been accompanied by repeated and deliberate 'leaks' and the turnover of 17 boxes of documentary evidence to the DOJ three days after the Department revealed and the President confirmed that a conclusion had already been reached," he said, through said lawyer Enrique dela Cruz.
"Let me make clear that I am innocent of the charges filed against me," Enrile said. "The Filipino people are entitled to a thorough, complete, and impartial investigation so that whatever his rank, whoever is guilty is punished and the innocent are exonerated. That is not the kind of investigation that has been done."
"I therefore trust that the Ombudsman will conduct a thorough, complete, and impartial investigation under due process of law so that justice be done to all. It is with this trust that I will law my case before her. I am therefore ready to fully and honestly cooperate with the investigation to discover not just the truth but the whole truth," he added.
Enrile was brought to a hospital over the weekend after he complained of difficulty in urinating and high blood pressure.
He was still at the Makati Medical Center on Monday.